My Lords, I express my thanks to my noble friend for making this important debate possible. When the Minister responds, I would be very grateful if he could be as explicit as possible in assuring the House that no vulnerable child will have been disadvantaged by the change in policy that my noble friend has enunciated.
We and successive Governments have been very concerned about black, Asian and minority ethnic children, sibling groups and children with special education needs being left behind in the adoption process. To successive Governments’ credit, much progress has been made. Obviously, we are all very concerned that this change in policy is not a step backwards.
My noble friend has talked about the imperative to think about the needs of our children and the importance of their future happiness, but we must also as a society think about the cost to society of failing to intervene early and effectively. I visited a residential school for children with severe trauma on Friday. They told me that it can cost a local authority £1 million to place a child in a residential setting. It is costing local authorities huge amounts of money to intervene very late in troubled children’s lives. I pay tribute to what the Government have been doing, but I would really appreciate it if the Minister could make it absolutely clear that there is no disadvantage to the vulnerable children successive Governments have been trying to serve in this change in policy. I look forward to his response.